St. Clair ShoresMarch 27, 2013
Lake Shore grad, NFL Hall of Famer George Allen honored
By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer
ST. CLAIR SHORES — George Allen Jr. didn’t grow up in St. Clair Shores, but he has fond memories of the area thanks to his father, whom he’s named after.
“We were always connected to the city of Detroit and St. Clair Shores,” said Allen Jr. “You could gauge his mood in the offseason by how the Tigers were doing, and he didn’t think there was anybody better than Gordie Howe.”
That offseason was often the NFL offseason. Allen Jr.’s father is George Allen Sr. — a 1927 graduate of St. Clair Shores Lake Shore High who coached more than 20 years in the NFL, including 13 years as a head coach. Allen Sr. was honored March 19 at Lake Shore as a part of a “Hometown Hall of Famers” series being spearheaded by the Pro Football Hall and Allstate.
A packed gymnasium watched as Allen Sr. was honored with a plaque that will be displayed at Lake Shore. Allstate Chair, President and CEO Tom Wilson, along with Pro Football Hall of Fame President and CEO George Veras, were on hand to present Allen Jr., who represented Virginia as a U.S. senator (2001-2007), U.S. representative (1991-1993) and governor (1994-1998), with the plaque.
“It’s an honor and a pleasure to be able to honor (George Allen Sr.),” Lake Shore Principal Joe DiPonio said. “We know a lot of Mr. Allen’s story, and now we have the opportunity to share it with other people.”
The ceremony featured a short video that detailed Allen Sr.’s accomplishments. St. Clair Shores Mayor Kip Walby and Mayor Pro Tem Ron Frederick presented Allen Jr. with proclamations in honor of his dad, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.
“There are a lot of memories and pictures all over the school that make it really heartening to be back at Lake Shore, where my dad got his start,” said Allen Jr. of his father, who passed away in 1990 at the age of 72.
“I know he’s here in spirit, and I know he’s smiling.”
Wilson, a 1975 graduate of Lake Shore, let the students in attendance know that anything can be accomplished with hard work and dedication.
“(Allen Sr.) knew that and reached the pinnacle of his profession,” Wilson said.
While at Lake Shore, the Hall of Famer earned varsity letters in football, basketball and track. He earned degrees from the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University, and he ranks as the winningest coach in team history for the St. Louis Rams and Washington Redskins. His record with the then-Los Angeles Rams (1957, 1966-70) was 49-17-4. Allen had a mark of 67-30-1 with Washington (1971-77). He also spent eight years as an assistant coach with the Chicago Bears from 1958-65.
Allen Sr., who was born in Nelson County, Va., earned Associated Press Coach of the Year honors in 1967 and 1971. His .712 win percentage puts him fourth of all time.
“Of the 279 players in the Hall of Fame, 200 of them came from communities just like (St. Clair Shores),” Veras said.
“The Pro Football Hall of Fame likes to bring the Hall of Fame into the communities of its inductees to show people how their stories began,” Allen Jr. said.
“I’m just trying to think of what my father would say to all of us. I know he’d be trying to motivate everyone in this room right now,” he added.
“I think he’d say that each and every person in this room has one special God-given gift. He’d say you need to use that gift to the best of your ability, or you’re cheating yourself and you’re cheating others. … You have to have the desire to achieve.”